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Hygiene must improve in hotels, post COVID-19

Domestic and international travel has seen a sharp decline since the COVID-19 outbreak, with some travellers finding themselves stuck abroad, while others that have returned home may be forced to quarantine as a protection measure against the virus. Locally, those who have already been exposed to the virus are encouraged to quarantine away from their families to prevent the virus from infecting their loved ones. Often in these cases, individuals rely on the ability to stay in hotels to bridge the gap before they can return home again.

In the meantime, as some governments around the world are contemplating the easing of restrictions put in place since the onset of the pandemic, there are many areas that present a potential threat – especially in the case of hotel stays.

According to the World Health Organization, infection prevention for COVID-19 includes physical distancing, wearing masks, and practicing good hygiene. This includes disinfecting hands and surfaces.

Besides the risk of catching COVID-19 in hotels, there have been numerous studies previously that show the risk of infection in the industry. According to a 2015 report, guests can be exposed to a wide range of diseases during their stay, including the common cold, athletes’ foot, influenza, herpes, Staphylococcus infections, Streptococcus infections, hepatitis, salmonellosis, acute gingivitis, intestinal flu, mononucleosis, tuberculosis, Legionnaires’ disease, sever acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and norovirus. [1,2]

Despite its status as a multi-billion dollar global industry, there are currently no universal standards for cleaning hotel rooms. Visual assessment is the main indicator for cleanliness in hotel rooms, though this has been proven as a poor indicator of sanitary status. [3] Guests may acquire an illness from surfaces that have been contaminated by previous guests, as well as by housekeepers during cleaning. [4]

Contaminated items

In one study, although the rooms looked clean, microbial analysis revealed almost all hotel room surfaces studies would fail to meet hygiene requirements set out in other industries. [2] High-risk items include sponges and mops from housekeeping carts, the main light switch, the telephone keypad, and the TV remote, while low-risk items include the curtain rod, the headboard, the bathroom door handle, the shower floor, the room door handle, and the bathroom faucet. [1] Risk level could be influenced by the porosity of the surface, as well as the cleaning agents used to clean surfaces. Surfaces such as those found on TV remotes and telephone keypads present a unique challenge as they are difficult to sanitize based on the materials they are manufactured from, and the areas between buttons.

A focus on sanitizing, and not simply cleaning surfaces in hotel rooms between guests can help to control microbes that contribute to community-acquired infections. In the absence of universal standards for cleanliness in hotel rooms, it is important to stay vigilant and practice thorough hand hygiene to fend off the threat of infection, as approximately 80% of all communicable diseases spread via the hands. Offering staff and guests adequate access to hand hygiene opportunities can help minimize the potential for acquiring infection. Integrating a comprehensive hygiene concept into a hotel can make this possible.

OPHARDT Hygiene Solutions

For more than 50 years, OPHARDT Hygiene has been an innovator in the hygiene industry, delivering opportunities for hand hygiene where they matter most. Protect your guests from arrival to departure with one of our flexible sanitizer stations that can be placed in entranceways, lobbies, and more.

Within the room itself, equip your guests with OPHARDT’s new H3 modular dispenser, bringing a level of sophistication to the washroom experience. 

These dispensers can be used with the regular hand soaps, body wash, shampoo, and conditioners. Different pumps can be implemented to work with sanitizer in areas like lobby entrances, hotel restaurants, fitness or spa areas, and in the guest rooms themselves.

OPHARDT Hygiene also has countless bracket solutions for carts and trolleys that allow for mounting of  sanitizer dispensers, wipes and glove boxes. In this way cleaning staff always have access to tools to keep facilities clean and hygienic.

Sources:

[1] Almanza, Barbara A., et al. “How clean are hotel rooms? Part I: visual observations vs. microbiological contamination.” Journal of environmental health 78.1 (2015): 8-13.

[2] Almanza, Barbara A., et al. “How clean are hotel rooms? Part II: Examining the concept of cleanliness standards.” Journal of environmental health 78.1 (2015): 14-19.

[3] Xu, Changyun, et al. “Sanitary status and incidence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile within Canadian hotel rooms.” Journal of environmental health 77.8 (2015).

[4] Sifuentes et al.,  2014 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12560-014-9158-0Sifuentes, Laura Y., et al. “Use of hygiene protocols to control the spread of viruses in a hotel.” Food and environmental virology 6.3 (2014): 175-181.

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